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Black Bamboo's swan song? - is the 100 year cycle now?

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by Stuart Fawcett, Jul 20, 2021.

  1. Stuart Fawcett

    Stuart Fawcett Gardener

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    Hi There,

    My Black bamboo, Phyllostachys nigra, has been growing a storm for a number of years now and looking great.
    However this year its flowering:
    IMG_20210720_101642533_HDR.jpg

    Pretty in its own way, but not a patch on its normal self, However looking further on the web it seems that the flowering cycle for Phyllostachys nigra might well be every 60 years - lucky to see it you might say, but also it seems that this is unfortunately a likely end to the plant :(
    What odd is that even small cuttings I've taken from runners are also flowering, as is new growth 2 feet tall. Again reading on the web it seems that ALL bamboo of the same types flowers at the same time WORLDWIDE. I'm still looking for confirmation of this. but it seems scientists find this synchronised cycle amazing and are unsure as to why.
    So it looks like this will be my last bean cane harvest for a while whilst i source new plants or get luck that fresh seed falls and roots for me. That should see me well for another 60 years ;)

    Is this really happening for others? Will I have new growth next year, will all my cuttings die off. What other types of bamboo might i consider to replace them?

    Happy to hear of others opinions?
     
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    • Nikolaos

      Nikolaos Total Gardener

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      That's incredible, I'd never heard of it before and have just been doing a bit of reading on it!

      Bamboo Botanicals - Bamboo Flowering

      It sounds like you can probably propagate it from seed as well as hoping that it self-seeds Stuart, the RHS recommends a 50/50 mix of MPC/vermiculite. :dunno: It mentions that many species germinate within a fortnight at the latest, don't know if that includes yours but surely worth a go if it's a plant you're fond of! :)

      "Bamboos can be propagated from seed, although, because supply is irregular, it is a less common method of propagation. Sow seed fresh as soon as it is ripe. Viable seeds feel solid like grain - papery ones will not germinate.

      • Use a multi-purpose compost with 50 per cent vermiculite added to provide good drainage, and sow seed onto the surface of the compost
      • Many species germinate within a week or two in a minimum temperature of 10°C (50°F)
      • To reduce the risk of damping off, keep seedlings growing through winter in the house, or alternatively in cooler, but dryer conditions"
      Bamboo

      Nick
       
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      • NigelJ

        NigelJ Total Gardener

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        • Stuart Fawcett

          Stuart Fawcett Gardener

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          Thanks Nick, Yeah i like the idea of that - Quick and easy if it works from seed - also might be nice if I can pass some onto my Sis-in-law - I'd promised her the grown on rhizomes i was growing but now worry about them dying when i give them to her. I'll watch for good seed and give that a go :)
           
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          • Stuart Fawcett

            Stuart Fawcett Gardener

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          • pete

            pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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            I'm just wondering what happens if you cut it down.
            Not suggesting you cut it all down, but just a thought, if you stop it from flowering the roots might just not die.
             
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            • Stuart Fawcett

              Stuart Fawcett Gardener

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              I think that's a good idea Pete - I'll try it on some rhizome cuttings hoping they may then grow quicker than seeds. Unfortunately its full on flowering now as I did not understand what was happening when it first started.
              Of course it may just mean they flower again next year instead then die as all I've done is stall their natural cycle. What i love and hate about gardening is how long it takes to find out how plants are affected by what we do to them :)
               
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              • Giri

                Giri Gardener

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                I was surprised to read that bamboo can spread by seed, it is a problem here because it invades the water channels and is virtually impossible to remove.
                Your´s may flower and die Pete, but your neighbours might soon find new examples of this highly invasive plant erupting in their flower beds.
                I´m sure they´d give you a cutting ...
                 
              • pete

                pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                I don't actually have real bamboo ,ok I do have 3 clumps of supposedly B. Pubescens, I grew from seed 25yr ago.
                It seems to go through a juvenile stage for a number of years.

                One of my clumps is just showing adult stems.
                Should add I don't look after them very well.
                 
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                • pete

                  pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                  Also, isn't black bamboo a variety rather than a species?
                  Not sure if it would come true from seed.
                   
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                  • NigelJ

                    NigelJ Total Gardener

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                    • flounder

                      flounder Gardener

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                      My understanding is it will flower over a period of a few years. A few million seeds will probably germinate to repopulate the dying clump/stand. This can be a total nightmare as a lot of the phyllostachys can be...shall we say unruly? If you are using a restrictive root barrier the seeds will invariably germinate outside of this! You should end up with a lot of plant swaps.....I'm interested
                       
                    • Sirius

                      Sirius Total Gardener

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                      I have had a few bamboos flower

                      Chusquea gigantea flowered about 4 years ago.
                      It tried desperately to keep shooting new leaves on older culms. No new culms. Was looking terrible by last year, so I chopped it out. I have recently noticed a few seedlings in the area where the parent plant was

                      Fargesia nitida flowering this year. Looked dreadful and have also removed it.
                       
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                        Last edited: Jul 21, 2021
                      • NigelJ

                        NigelJ Total Gardener

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                        @Sirius My fargesia nitidia flowered about 5 years ago and I took it out the following year, found a few seedlings, but many.
                         
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